Detasseling is hot, dirty work, but it's a job a lot of teens and preteens, like those pictured here on a bus ride home from the fields, rely on in the summertime. This year, though, the crews will be smaller, the buses cleaner, and the free-for-all fun rides home subdued by social distancing rules.
Detasseling is hot, dirty work, but it's a job a lot of teens and preteens, like those pictured here on a bus ride home from the fields, rely on in the summertime. This year, though, the crews will be smaller, the buses cleaner, and the free-for-all fun rides home subdued by social distancing rules.

Detassling season means a hard-earned income for many students over the summer, but some crews are being limited due to the COVID-19 health crisis.

Crew leaders and seed companies are determining ways to keep health and social distancing in mind during the pandemic.

Some students who hoped to make money on the fields may not get that chance. Wyffels Hybrids, a seed company based in Geneseo, has informed teams such as Bickett-Donner-Helms that it does not want large groups of people detasseling

Bickett-Donner-Helms, a team led by three Bureau Valley High School teachers that works in Whiteside and Bureau counties, won't be able to hire everyone who's applied, it recently announced on its website.

Instead, BDH will put together a smaller rouging crew that will dig out bad corn plants to prevent contamination of hybrid corn.

Rounding up students for travel becomes a problem with social distancing and extra vehicles are needed to shuttle them, Dale Donner of BDH said.

Signup events, typically held six times a year at nearby schools, had to be scrapped and more communication has been made via technology.

Workers for BDH will be asked to wear masks or bandannas while on the bus. Breaks will be taken outside of the bus now, and an extra worker has been hired by BDH to clean bus seats after each trip, Donner said.

Changes also are being made at Papoccia Olson Detasseling of Sterling.

Assigned seats will be arranged on buses to minimize contact with others, lunch and break times, and water jugs and porta-pots will be disinfected daily, Papoccia Olson said in a recent Facebook post.

The long hours in the field to remove tassels from the tops of corn plants pay between $9 and $15 an hour at most places.

For more local news, visit SaukValley.com at https://www.saukvalley.com.

Whiteside County